Mizzou New Music Ensemble to play final concert of the season Monday, April 16 at Whitmore Recital Hall

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble (pictured) will play the final concert of their 2011-12 season at 8:00 p.m., Monday, April 16 in Whitmore Recital Hall, 135 Fine Arts Building on the University of Missouri campus. Admission to the concert is free for Mizzou students, $5 suggested donation for the general public.

Continuing the Ensemble’s practice of performing new works by composers associated with the University, the concert will feature world premieres of three pieces written by Mizzou students who are earning master’s degrees in composition.

Grant Fonda’s SHARK! BLIMP! GERSHWIN! draws inspiration from the simplicity and joy of the composer’s young piano students, with influences from jazz and commercial music.

Joe HillsChildren with Smart Phones is a tongue-in-cheek piece about the negative effects of technology that includes syncopated rhythms contrasted with lyrical melodies and lush harmonies.

The third student piece, sifting through ashes,  is the master’s thesis for composer Michael Strausbaugh. It’s a 10-minute-long work with solemn, slow sections bracketing an expansive middle of shifting meters and tonalities that seemingly are inspired by a folk or rock dance.

Completing the concert program is Donnacha Dennehy’s “As An Nós,” an epic soundscape filled with rich colors and rhythmic energy that originally was written for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and featured in 2009 on WNYC’s “New Sounds Live.” For this piece, the Ensemble will be augmented by guest musicians Michael Strausbaugh, guitar; and Grant Bradshaw, viola.

Dennehy, considered one of the leading new music innovators in Ireland, will be one of the guest composers for the 2012 Mizzou New Music Summer Festival, to be held July 23-28 in Columbia. The Ensemble is preparing As An Nós for the Festival, and will be coached that week by Dennehy for their performance on Friday, July 27 at the Missouri Theatre.

The six-member Mizzou New Music Ensemble is made up of University of Missouri graduate students under the direction of Stefan Freund, a cellist, composer and associate professor. The Ensemble’s members for the 2011-12 season are Stephanie Berg, clarinets; Ryan Borden, percussion; Young Kim, flutes; Matthew Pierce, cello; David Snow, violin; and Renata Tavernard, piano.

They serve as the repertory group for the Mizzou New Music Initiative, working with faculty, students and visiting composers, and giving public performances on campus and in the community.

Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P.) rewards student composers from across Missouri

From “Windswept Dreams” to “Madness,” the winning entries in the seventh annual Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P.) competition demonstrate the passion and commitment of the young composers who brought them to life.

For 2012, a total of 22 elementary, middle school and high school students from across Missouri have been awarded prizes in the competition. As a reward for their work, they’ll get a chance to perform their winning compositions at the Creating Original Music Project Festival. The Festival will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 21 at the Fine Arts Building on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus.

Both the composers and their schools will receive cash prizes. High school winners also receive a scholarship to attend Mizzou’s high school summer music composition camp.

C.O.M.P. is a joint venture of the University of Missouri School of Music and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, which provides an annual gift of $50,000 to sponsor the competition. The program was created in 2005 to encourage K-12 students in Missouri to write original musical works and to encourage performances of those works. The 2012 competition had a total of 94 entries in seven different categories, with winners ranging in age from eight years old to 18.

“Since we first started C.O.M.P. seven years ago, we’ve had nearly 500 entries from young composers across the state,” said Jeanne Sinquefield of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation. “A number of them have gone on to become multiple winners, and we’re delighted to give them an opportunity to express themselves and develop their skills. Their success is an indication of real progress towards our goal of making Missouri a center for the composition of new music.”

The 2012 Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P.) competition categories and winners include:

Elementary – Song with words
1) Menea Vladi Kefalov & Ande Celeste Siegel of Reed Elementary School, St. Louis, for “War.” Music teacher: Sarah Schwartz.
2) Elizabeth Y. Murray of Reeds Spring Elementary, Reeds Springs, for “The Road Home Song.” Music teacher: Sue Gillen.
3) Grace Filer of Harrisonville Christian School, Harrisonville, for “Only Holy One.” Music teacher: Kay Schrock.

Elementary – Instrumental
1) Hyun Jun (John) Yoo of Fairview Elementary, Columbia, for “Earthquake’s Destruction.” Music teacher: Sara Dexheimer.
2) Tristan Handy of Daniel Young Elementary, Blue Springs, for “Windswept Dreams.” Music teachers: Connie Bates and Debbie Gray.
3) Olivia Bennett of Mathews Elementary, Nixa, for “Count Olaf.” Music teacher: Annette Genung.

Middle School – Popular
1) Anthony Delia of Holy Infant School, Ballwin, for “Words.” Music teacher: Eric Henson.
2) Lileana Ibur of Wydown Middle School, Clayton, for “Nothing Boy.” Music teachers: Aaron Doerr and Jerry Estes.
3) Sarah Meadows of West Junior High, Columbia, for “Another New Day Begins.” Music teachers: Sutu Forte and James Melton.

Middle School – Fine Art
1) Savannah Kitchen of Lange Middle School, Columbia, for “Winter’s Waltz.” Music teachers: Suzanne Kitchen and Allison Schmidt.
2) Alice Ann Yu of West Junior High, Columbia, for “Traveling Around The World.” Music teachers: Mabel Kinder and Margaret Lawless.
3) Edward Tsang of Heartland High School, Belton, for “Dramatization.” Music teacher: Nah Han Dahmer.

High School – Fine Art
1) Gus Knobbe of Webster Groves High School, Webster Groves, for “Madness.” Music Teacher: Dane Williams
2) Carter Datz of Hickman High School, Columbia, for “Celtic Blessing.” Music Teacher: Matt Felts.
3) Bryan Gibson of Webb City High School, Webb City, for “Salva me.” Music teacher: Diana Williams.

High School – Jazz
1) Benedetto Colagiovanni of Clayton High School, Clayton, for “Waltz For Bill.” Music Teachers: Rick Zelle and Alice Fasman.
2) Brandon Moore of Dexter High School, Dexter, for “Morning Jog.” Music teacher: Scott Rybolt.
3) Ben Bergstrom of Rock Bridge High School, Columbia, for “Nessy.” Music teacher: Steve Mathews.

High School – Popular
1) Ross Menefee of Hickman High School, Columbia, for “Turn Your Shoulder.” Music teacher: Denis Swope
2) Tanner Qualls, a home-schooled student from Lee’s Summit, for “Secrets and Lies.”
3) Jaron Christopher Geil, a home-schooled student from Grandview, for “This Crime.”

Each student who enters the competition must have the signature and sponsorship of his or her school’s music teacher. Community agencies, churches, after-school programs, private teachers and other musical mentors also may sponsor their young musicians in partnership with the student’s school music teacher.

MNMI in the media: Stephanie Berg, Donovan Tousignant, eighth blackbird

The Mizzou New Music Initiative continues to make news on campus, in Columbia, and throughout the state of Missouri and the world of music.

Most recently, two young composers associated with the MNMI were featured in the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Stephanie Berg, a graduate student who’s a member of the Mizzou New Music Ensemble and a past winner of the Sinquefield Composition Prize, was profiled by the Tribune‘s Jill Renae Hicks in a story on February 19. Berg will be one of the resident composers at this year’s Mizzou New Music Summer Festival, to be held July 23-28 in Columbia.

Undergraduate Donovan Tousignant, whose composition “Sleeper: Dreamer pt. 2” was performed in concert earlier this year by the Ensemble, also was profiled by Hicks for the Tribune on March 4. You can read that article online here.

Meanwhile, this week’s residency and concert by the touring ensemble eighth blackbird was the subject of another story by Hicks, also published on March 4.

Local NBC affiliate KOMU also visited campus on Wednesday, March 7 for a report on eighth blackbird’s coaching session with the members of the Mizzou New Music Ensemble.

Columbia celebrates contemporary composers with four visionary events in March

For the past two years, the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival has brought visionary composers and musicians to Columbia in July for a week of concerts and workshops. Now the Mizzou New Music Initiative, will team up in March with the Columbia Civic Orchestra and Odyssey Chamber Music Series to present another week of performances focusing on the future of music.

“4C: Columbia Celebrates Contemporary Composers” will take place from Sunday, March 4 through Saturday, March 10. The week will feature concerts by four different ensembles, including the Columbia debut of the Grammy Award winning new music group eighth blackbird (pictured).

“4C” also will include the debut of this year’s Sinquefield Composition Prize commission, written by Mizzou student Michael E. Anderson and performed by the University Philharmonic Orchestra. The week will conclude with a special concert by the Columbia Civic Orchestra, playing four new works selected through the new Missouri Composers Orchestra Project. The schedule for the week is:

Sunday, March 4: The Mizzou New Music Ensemble performs a program including music by Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Higdon and the world premiere of a new piece by MU professor W. Thomas McKenney.
* 8:00 p.m. at Whitmore Recital Hall on the MU campus.
* Admission is free to Mizzou students, $5 suggested donation at the door for the public.

Monday, March 5: The University of Missouri Chancellor’s Concert features the University Philharmonic Orchestra with the premiere of this year’s Sinquefield Composition Prize commission by Michael E. Anderson.
* 7:30 p.m. at the Missouri Theatre, 203 South 9th St..
* Tickets are $10 for general admission, $5 for Mizzou students.

Friday, March 9: The internationally acclaimed touring ensemble eighth blackbird makes its Columbia debut in a concert co-presented by the MU School of Music and Odyssey Chamber Music Series.
* 7:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 1112 E. Broadway.
* Tickets are $20 for general admission, $10 for students, children under 12 free.

eighth blackbird is a Chicago-based sextet that “combines the finesse of a string quartet with the energy of a rock band and the riskiness of a storefront theater company. Its musical aerobatics delight, provoke and entertain audiences around the world.” They have collaborated with numerous contemporary composers and released four recordings, including strange imaginary animals (2006), which won two Grammy Awards. Their most recent CD Lonely Motel: Music from Slide is nominated for four Grammy Awards.

The Odyssey Chamber Music Series is “committed to presenting masterpieces of chamber music repertoire that span over four centuries, in mixed ensembles of all instruments. Odyssey hopes to cultivate interest in quality classical music performances through innovative programming involving professional local performers as well as guest artists from outside the community. The organization also hopes to educate audiences and the next generation of performers through program notes, pre-concert lectures, and student performances.”

Saturday, March 10: The Columbia Civic Orchestra plays works selected through the Missouri Composers Orchestra Project, including “Euphoria Overture” by Michael Blackwood, “This Is the Garden” by Joseph Eidson, “Menuet Macabre” by Warren Gooch; and “The Tragedy of the Hero” by Edward Crouse.
* 7:00 p.m. at Columbia College’s Launer Auditorium.
* Free and open to the public.

The Columbia Civic Orchestra (CCO) is a volunteer group located in Columbia, Missouri, dedicated to providing enjoyment for its members and audiences with the presentation and preservation of high-quality symphonic music.

The Missouri Composers Orchestra Project is a joint venture of the CCO and the Mizzou New Music Initiative, sponsored by the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation and intended to encourage the performance of contemporary orchestral works written by Missouri natives or composers living in the state.

Tickets for the Chancellor’s Concert may be purchased in advance from http://www.concertseries.org/ or at the door. Tickets for eighth blackbird are on sale now at http://www.odysseymissouri.org/tickets.html and also will be on sale at the door.

Missouri Composers Orchestra Project selects four winning new works

The Columbia Civic Orchestra (CCO) and the Mizzou New Music Initiative have announced the selection of four orchestral compositions written by Missouri residents to be performed by the CCO at a concert in March. The works were chosen in a statewide competition conducted under the auspices of the Missouri Composers Orchestra Project (MOCOP). The winners will receive a $500 honorarium from MOCOP’s sponsor, the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

The three works chosen in the Open category are “Euphoria Overture” by Michael Blackwood, who lives in Florissant and teaches orchestra for the Rockwood School District; “This Is the Garden” by Joseph Eidson, a Jefferson City native now residing in New Cumberland, PA and teaching music at Bucknell University; and “Menuet Macabre” by Warren Gooch, professor of music theory and composition at Truman State University in Kirksville. The winning composition in the High School category is “The Tragedy of the Hero” by Edward Crouse, a sophomore at Jefferson City High School.

The winners were selected by judges John Cheetham, professor emeritus of music theory and composition at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and Bruce Gordon, orchestra manager for CCO. The judges also awarded an Honorable Mention to composer Michael Strausbaugh for his piece “Erebus,” and a Special Mention to Ryan Jesperson for “I. Jest.”

The four winning compositions will be performed by the Columbia Civic Orchestra as part of a concert of new music by Missouri composers at 7:00 p.m., Saturday, March 10 at Columbia College’s Launer Auditorium, 901 Rogers Street in Columbia. The program also will include recent orchestral compositions by two University of Missouri students, Stephanie Berg’s “Distraction” and Patrick Clark’s “Ptolemy’s Carousel.”

Six different conductors will lead the six pieces, with CCO music director Stefan Freund conducting Berg’s work and Patrick Clark conducting his own piece. Also wielding the baton will be Rob Shay, director of the MU School of Music (Blackwood); MU symphonic band director Brian Silvey (Eidson); Alex Blanton, director of Philharmonia Columbia (Gooch); and Grant Bradshaw, assistant conductor of the Missouri Symphony Society Conservatory (Crouse).

Columbia Civic Orchestra is a volunteer group located in Columbia, Missouri, dedicated to providing enjoyment for its members and audiences with the presentation and preservation of high-quality symphonic music.

Edward Crouse

Joseph Eidson

Warren Gooch

Mizzou New Music Summer Festival’s resident composers will bring diversity to 2012 event

From a London-based composer pursuing a doctorate at the Royal Academy of Music, to a Greek studying music in upstate New York, to a Kansas City native working towards her Master’s degree at Mizzou, the resident composers selected for this year’s Mizzou New Music Summer Festival are perhaps the most diverse group yet in the event’s three-year history.

The University of Missouri School of Music and the Mizzou New Music Initiative today announced the eight resident composers selected for the 2012 Festival, which will take place Monday, July 23 through Saturday, July 28 in Columbia. Chosen through a portfolio application process that this year attracted 144 entries from all over the world – including Israel, France, Ireland, Spain, South Africa, Russia, England, Thailand, Canada and China – they are:

* Stephanie Berg – Columbia, MO
* Brian Ciach – Bloomington, IN
* David Crowell – New York, NY
* Stylianos Dimou – Rochester, NY
* Ted Goldman – Rochester, NY
* Patrick Harlin – Ann Arbor, MI
* Charlie Piper – London, England
* Asha Srinivasan – Appleton, WI

Three of the composers selected have significant international ties: Piper, a native and current resident of London; Dimou, who was born and raised in Greece; and Srinivasan, who was born in the United States but lived in India as a child. Mizzou is represented in the group by Stephanie Berg, a graduate student working toward a Master’s degree in clarinet performance and composition, and winner of the 2009 Sinquefield Composition Prize.

The 2012 Mizzou New Music Summer Festival will include a series of public concerts featuring music from the resident composers and other contemporary creators, as well as workshops, master classes and other events. The Festival’s guest composers for 2012 will be Steven Stucky, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for composition and professor at Cornell University; and Donnacha Dennehy, a native of Dublin who is one of the leading contemporary composers in Ireland. The acclaimed new music group Alarm Will Sound, conducted by artistic director Alan Pierson, once again will serve as resident ensemble, as they have since the Festival began in 2010.

During the festival, the eight resident composers will receive composition lessons from Stucky and Dennehy; take part in rehearsals with Alarm Will Sound; give presentations on their music; and receive a premiere performance and professional live recording of a new work created specifically for the Festival and Alarm Will Sound.

A complete schedule of events, times, dates and venues for the 2012 Mizzou New Music Summer Festival will be announced at a later date. For more information, please visit http://newmusicsummerfestival.missouri.edu/.

Stephanie Berg

Brian Ciach

David Crowell

Stylianos Dimou

Ted Goldman

Ted Goldman

Patrick Harlin

Charlie Piper

Asha Srinivasan

Mizzou New Music Ensemble to perform three world premieres Monday, December 5 at Whitmore Recital Hall

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble (pictured) will continue its 2011-12 season with a concert at 8:00 p.m., December 5 at Whitmore Recital Hall, 135 Fine Arts Building on the University of Missouri campus. Admission to the concert is free for Mizzou students, $5 suggested donation for the general public.

The concert will feature three world premieres by composers associated with Mizzou, plus works from modern masters Steven Stucky and John Adams. Adams, known for his pioneering minimalist composition “Shaker Loops” and the operas Nixon in China and Doctor Atomic, is the composer of “Christian Zeal and Activity,” a 1973 work that slowly deconstructs a traditional New England hymn.

Stucky, a professor at Cornell University and the 2005 recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for music, will be one of the guest composers for the 2012 Mizzou New Music Summer Festival, to be held July 23-28 in Columbia. For the December 5 concert, the Ensemble will perform his 1998 piece “ad parnassum,” which offers an exploration of color and timbre.

Mizzou freshman Haley Myers, who is studying composition on a full Sinquefield scholarship, contributed “Motivic Motivations,” a 2011 piece that, as the name suggests, concentrates on motivic development. David Witter, who this year will complete a Master’s degree in composition at Mizzou, will direct the Ensemble in a performance of his new work “Soundpainting,” a series of gestures that create sound.

Rounding out the program will be “Let There Be Light,” a bright depiction of the story of the creation composed in 2011 by Kyung Soon Chang, a visiting scholar at Mizzou and adjunct professor of music education and composition at Chonbuk National University in Seoul, South Korea.

The six-member Mizzou New Music Ensemble is made up of University of Missouri graduate students under the direction of Stefan Freund, a cellist, composer and associate professor. The Ensemble’s members for the 2011-12 season are Stephanie Berg, clarinets; Ryan Borden, percussion; Young Kim, flutes; Matthew Pierce, cello; David Snow, violin; and Renata Tavernard, piano.

As the repertory group for the Mizzou New Music Initiative, they work with faculty, students and visiting composers, and give public performances on campus and in the community. The Ensemble will present two more concerts this academic year at Whitmore Recital Hall, on Sunday, March 4, and Monday, April 16.

Stephanie Berg wins statewide composition competition

University of Missouri graduate student Stephanie Berg (pictured) has won this year’s award in the “Young Artist” category of the Missouri State Division of Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) composition competition.

Berg, who is pursuing a Master’s degree in clarinet performance and composition at Mizzou, was recognized for her piece “Of Air Sweet and Water Deep.” The work was composed in 2010 for the Mizzou New Music Ensemble and premiered at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis as part of a tribute to the Garden’s President Emeritus, Dr. Peter Raven.

“Of Air Sweet and Water Deep” now will be entered in the national MTNA composition competition, which offers a first place prize of $3,000, plus a performance at the Winners Concert during the 2012 MTNA National Conference, March 24–28 in New York City.

A native of Parkville, Missouri and graduate of Park Hill South High School, Berg earned her Bachelor of Music degree in clarinet performance from Mizzou in 2008. She was the recipient of the 2009 Sinquefield Composition Prize, which resulted in the commissioned work Motive and Reflection for full orchestra.

In addition to her work as a composer, she performs in the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, the University Philharmonic, and the Columbia Civic Orchestra, playing B flat, A, E flat, and bass clarinets. Berg also has served for three years as project manager for the Mizzou New Music Initiative’s Creating Original Music Program (C.O.M.P.).